Late summer provided an opportunity to make a quick run up to Quebec Canada for a few days and another opportunity to see a slightly different take on things from our brethren and sistren to the north. Of course, franco-centric Quebec is kind of unique even within Canada, so I needed to summon up my high school french from the musty dungeon of the linguistic castle. Quebec has fought long and hard to keep its identity and to keep french as the primary language. It even moved to secede from Canada a while ago citing how very different it is. Indeed, it is probably the most european looking-and-feeling place in north america. Quebec City is a beautiful historic city that is also one of the oldest in north america. But I digest, this is not a travel blog.
Unfortunately for Canada, and in complete contrast to the European feel of Quebec, they have been subject to some of the worst products conceived by Detroit’s big three over time. In fact, the 4-wheeled automotive landscape looks more like Detroit than anywhere else. I’m not positive, but I think the Oldsmobile Intrigue and the Chevy Lumina were given away for free in Canada. Not much to report on the two-wheeled front either. I did see a couple of Voxans in Montreal, and a few more Moto Guzzis than I would normally see, but for the most part the mix was not radically different than in the US. Other than having speedometers in KPH rather than MPH, the automotive landscape of Canada is really no different than that of the US. With one exception. Scooters.
Scooters abound in the cities. While this has only recently caught on in large US cities, it has been the case for some time in Canadian cities and is even more so today. It makes Montreal or Quebec City feel more like Paris or Rome or London. Cool vintage Vespas and Lambrettas were scattered about along with newer Kymcos and brands I did not recognize. The scooter population was complemented by the bicycle population. The cities had a public bicycle rental system called Bixi, which allows you to rent one from hundreds of locations and ride to any other and drop it off. Great system, and well used.
So what of vintage cars and bikes ? This visit did not allow for exploration of that world, but I did not see much. There is a lot of newer german merchandise on the road, but that could be said of any major city. I did pay a visit to the BMW motorcycle dealer in Montreal, and it was an impressive place. Large and well-stocked. I had a conversation with a salesman and he explained that they were doing fairly well in these times. While walking along in Montreal, we were startled to hear loud sirens and a driver quickly pulled over right in front of us. The police officer quickly dismounted from a familiar looking motorcycle, and barked orders to the driver in french while drawing his weapon. The bike was a BMW R1150 RTP. If you squinted your eyes and blocked out the cars, it could have been Paris….